PS401 Abnormal Psychology

for S2SS 2007

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PS 401 Abnormal Psychology RA


S2SS 2007 RA


Schwartz, Kenneth L.


Adjunct Faculty


B.S. Psychology
M.A. Counseling Psychology
Licensed Professional Counselor, State of Texas

Office Location


Office Hours

By arrangement only

Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

March 12, 2007 - May 6, 2007

Class Days


Class Time

4:55 - 7:35 PM


PS 101

Credit Hours


Comer, R., (2007) Abnormal Psychology (6th Ed).  New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
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Course Description:
An introduction and investigation of the causes, development, symptomatology and treatment of abnormal behavior.  Primary focus is an eclectic view of persons and their adaptation of their environment.  Pre-requisite:  PS101.   3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
The instructor's education philosophy is based on the use of reading, lectures, discussion and interactions, exercises, papers, quizzes, and examinations to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and skills related to the topic area of a course.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate appropriate use of abnormal human behavior concepts, guided by the criteria of distress, deviance, dysfunction, danger.
  2. Differentiate and evaluate theories and treatments of psychopathology.
  3. Display ethical and responsible use of the DSM-IV.
  4. Identify the historical and cultural context of psychopathology.
  5. Critically examine the contextual influences on the theories and treatments of psychopathology.

Core Assessment:

Core Assessment Case Study

PS 401 Abnormal Psychology


DIRECTIONS:  After reading the case study, please answer the questions that are listed at the end of the case study.  Please list the category of the question e.g. EVALUATION, SYNTHESIS, etc., and number each question according the numbers in the category listing.




Presenting Complaint


Thirty-two-year-old Randy lives in a cabin in a remote rural area of Montana. He moved here 10 years ago after he left his parent's home in suburban Sacramento, California. The cabin has no electricity or running water. Randy considers himself a survivalist; he heats his house with wood and gets his water from a nearby mountain stream or from the rainwater he collects. He grows vegetables and kills game and birds. He has a 20-year-old truck that he uses to go into town, a 100-mile trip from his isolated home. He inherited $50,000 from an aunt several years ago. He keeps the money in a passbook savings account in town and withdraws cash when he needs it. He doesn't have a regular job, but people have found that he is good with his hands. He does odd carpentry jobs occasionally, if he is in the mood.


When Randy goes into town, it is usually to get a couple of hundred dollars of cash out of the bank, buy a few things from the grocery store, such as coffee, milk, and household items, treat himself to lunch at the diner, and go to the library. On these trips, he might pick up a job or two.


The people who know Randy refer to him as "odd" but harmless. He often talks to himself when he eats or works. Some say that if they listen closely he appears to be carrying on a conversation with one or two other people. Randy wears worn-out clothing and has long hair and a bushy beard. He is often dirty and disheveled, but he is not so different in that regard from other men in the area.


The diner where Randy eats lunch has a television that is always on. Randy appears agitated by the television and he mumbles something like, "Turn that thing off. It is messing with my head." One of the waitresses humors him and asks the other clients if she can turn it off. Most agree. When that waitress isn't working, the television stays on. Then Randy doesn't linger over his meal.


The librarian says Randy must be very bright, because he checks out history and philosophy books. In fact, she often orders books he wants from a large city library, as their library caters to the simple tastes of its rural populace.


One day, Randy came into the restaurant extremely agitated. He was pulling at his hair and talking loudly. He asked the waitress to give him something to stop the noise. What noise, she asked? He said, "The noise in my head. Since the television stole my brain I can't stop the noise." The waitress laughed and said, "Why don't you tell us what kind of noise is in your head? Maybe we want to listen, too." At this point, Randy reached over the counter and grabbed the waitress by the blouse and shouted, "Kill the noise or I will kill you."


A scuffle ensued as the patrons in the restaurant rushed to the waitress's defense. As they struggled with Randy he got more upset. He kicked, he bit, he threatened. Someone called the police and they came to arrest Randy. He actually calmed down and told the officers, "So, it's you. Go ahead and take me. You have been after me for years—putting arsenic in my garden plot, taking money out of my bank account. And stealing my brain—don't think I forgot that. But you will pay for this. The Chief is looking for you."


Randy was arrested and charged with assault and battery on the waitress and the patrons who tried to restrain him—both misdemeanors. Randy spent the night in jail before being brought before a judge the next day. During his night in jail he continuously banged on the bars demanding that the guards turn off the television (the closed-circuit television hung on the wall outside and across from his cell). He threw his metal dinner plate at the television, cursing it and yelling, "Why are you doing this to me? You stole my brain, what else do you want?" When he was taken in front of the judge, the officers reported on his comment at the restaurant and his behavior in jail. The jail superintendent reported that he wanted Randy charged with destruction of jail property (his metal dinner tray dented the side of the television). The judge ordered a psychological evaluation to see if Randy was suffering from a mental disorder of some kind. When the judge asked Randy if he knew what a psychological evaluation was, Randy said, "Sure. They want to get inside my head. But I'm telling you, they won't find anything. My brain is missing and I don't know where I left it."


Personal and Family History


Randy was the middle of three children. His father was an electrician and his mother taught elementary school. His older brother committed suicide at the age of 30—having struggled with depression most of his adult life. His father was never diagnosed with a mental disorder, but he was known for his paranoia and eccentric behaviors. Randy's mother had learned to be quiet and passive in order to appease her volatile husband. They rarely communicated with one another, and when they did it usually ended up in an argument.


Randy was a star high-school student and had a 3.8 GPA his first year in college. He was majoring in history. When a girlfriend broke up with him, his grades started to slip and everything about him seemed to change. He slept a lot, ate mostly junk food, and stopped going to class. He was placed on academic probation. He accused the Dean of being out to "get" him. He even suggested that the Dean took his girlfriend. Eventually Randy was expelled from the college.


He went home to his parents, where he became withdrawn and paranoid. Randy was angry with his father, who mostly ignored him. His mother was afraid of him, especially when he talked to himself and yelled at the television. Once when they were gone for the weekend, Randy pulled the cable box out of the wall and took a hammer to the television set, smashing in the sides. He told his parents that the cable box was taking thoughts from his brain and sending them to the television for all to hear. "My thoughts belong to me, and to no one else. Whoever tries to take them is going to have to pay."


A neighbor of his parents suggested that Randy ought to go to the community mental health clinic. Randy's father forbid it, saying no son of mine is going to a shrink. Shrinks are for "sissies." When the neighbor asked Randy if he wanted to get some help, Randy's response was, "I don't need help. Just turn off the damn TV."

One day, Randy went to the police department and said he wanted to file a criminal complaint.


“Against whom?” the officer on duty asked.


“Against WJTA-TV,” Randy said.


Sensing that Randy was a "bit off," he asked Randy, "What did they do to you?"


"Larceny—grand larceny," Randy said. "They stole my brain and I want it back."


The officer pretended to write up a complaint and told Randy he would give it to his supervisor for approval. That appeased Randy. When he left, the officer laughed and said, "Boy, it takes all kinds."


Shortly after this incident, Randy's aunt died and left him $50,000. Randy bought an old truck, the same one he has now, packed up his clothes and books and took off. He left his parents a note reading, "Thanks for nothing." That was the last they heard from Randy.  


DSM-IV Checklist


  1. At least two of the following symptoms, each present for a significant portion of time during a one-month period:

  1. Delusions.

  2. Hallucinations.

  3. Disorganized speech.

  4. Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior.

  5. Negative symptoms.

  1. Functioning markedly below the level achieved prior to onset.

  2. Continuous signs of the disturbance for at leas six months, at least one month of which includes symptoms in full and active form (as opposed to attenuated form).

Based on APA, 2000, 1994


DIRECTIONS:  After reading the case study, please answer the questions that are listed at the end of the case study.  Please list the category of the question e.g. EVALUATION, SYNTHESIS, etc., and number each question according the numbers in the category listing





Objective #1 Demonstrate appropriate use of abnormal human behavior concepts, guided by the criteria of distress, deviance, dysfunction, danger.


1.  Describe Randy's case in terms of deviance, distress, dysfunction and danger.




Objective #4 Understand the historical and cultural context of psychopathology.

Objective # 5 Critically examine the contextual influences on the theories and treatments of psychopathology.


1.  If Randy were still living in a Sacramento suburb, what do you think might have been different in the way his situation was perceived and how might this change the outcome?

2.  If Randy were living in the late 1880's, how would he be diagnosed by the community and treated?





Objective #2   Differentiate and evaluate theories and treatments of psychopathology.


1.  What genetic factors may have played a part in Randy's schizophrenia?

2.  What biochemical abnormalities might account for Randy's symptoms?

3.  What might have been the role of family stress in Randy's disorder?

4.  What does the sociocultural view of schizophrenia contribute to our understanding of Randy's case?

5.   What medication would be most helpful for Randy?  Discuss why you chose this particular medication?

6.  What treatment modalities would be helpful to Randy in addition to medication?




Objective #3 Display the responsible use of the DSM-IV, (and not to present themselves as professional users of it).


1.  Does Randy meet the criteria for schizophrenia?  If so, identify each of symptoms and/or behaviors that satisfy the symptom criteria for schizophrenia.

2.  What type of schizophrenia does Randy display and what behavior supports your reason for selecting this?

Class Assessment:
The level of student success in achieving the learning outcomes will be measured by class participation, examinations, core assessment, and presentation evaluating the DSM-IV diagnostic classification system.


Class Participation - 100 points 
Core Assessment - 150 points
Quizzes (10 quizzes at 10 points each) - 100 points
Examinations (three at 100 points each) - 300 points
Presentation - 100 points
Total Points Available - 750 points
1.  Presentation will integrate several aspects of the abnormal psychology diagnostic and classification approach.  You can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, your personal perspective of how you would use the diagnostic classification or a different approach for identifying and treating abnormal behavior, etc.  Discuss the rationale for your approach/model, its strengths and weaknesses, how it would assist in effective treatment, the philosophical, theoretical, and practical benefits/problems with your approach, etc.  The purpose of this assignment is to mentally interact with the current diagnostic and classification system model; develop your own perspective/approach to its use (or a radically different system of classificaiton/diagnosis as long as you can justify its usefulness and benefit to effective psychotherapy); and articulate your rationale for your approach/model.  Your model should touch on areas like your view of human nature, health, and pathology; the structure of the personality and human needs; and how change occurs.  The overall goal of the presentation is to present a cohesive, practical, and effective diagnostic and classification approach with supporting rationale.  
2.  Tests will be objective format.
3.  Class participation points are tied directly to classes attended regardless of whether absences are excused or unexcused.  Grading schema assumes regular class attendance.  Excessive absences will impact overall grade and additional assignments may be required to address missed class participation.
A: 90 - 100%
B: 80 - 89%
C: 70 - 79%
D: 60 - 69%
F: Below 60% or three or more unexcused absences

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Assignments are due at the beginning of the class period on the date given in the syllabus.  Five points will be deducted for every day an assignment is late.  No points will be awarded for an assignment that is late by more than 1 week.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

1. Attend all class session and arrive on time.
2. Read all assignments prior to class and actively participate in class discussions.
3. Treat each other with courtesy and respect.
4. Advise instructor of any TDYs before departure if it requries missing class.  Provide a copy of the orders to the instructor for the absence to be excused.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Date Topic Assignment
Week 1 - Class 1 - Overview Ch 1
Mar 12
Week 1 - Class 2 - Research Ch 2
Mar 14
Week 2 - Class 3 - Models of Abnormality Ch 3
Mar 19
Week 2 - Class 4 - Diagnosis & Trtmnt Ch 4
Mar 21
Week 3 - Class 5 - Anxiety Ch 5
Mar 26
Week 3 - Class 6 - Stress Disorders Ch 6 Exam #1 (Ch 1-5)
Mar 28
Week 4 - Class 7 - Dissociative Disorders Ch 7
Apr 2
Week 4 - Class 8 - Mood Ch 8 & 9
Arp 4
Week 5 - Class 9 - Eating Disorders Ch 11
Apr 9
Week 5 - Class 10 - Substance Disorders Ch 12
Apr 11
Week 6 - Class 11 - Schizophrenia Ch 14 Exam #2 (Ch 6-9, 11-12)
Apr 16
Week 6 - Class 12 - Schizophrenia Ch 15
Apr 18
Week 7 - Class 13 - Personality Disorders Ch 16 Core Assessment Due
Apr 23
Week 7 - Class 14 - Aging Ch 18
Apr 25
Week 8 - Class 15 - Legal Issues Ch 19
Apr 30
Week 8 - Class 16 - Class Review Exam #3 (Ch 14-16, 18-19)
May 2

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-89

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "W".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:2/23/2007 3:32:35 PM